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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Highly Recommended Reading: News of the World by Paulett Jiles

News of the World is a terrific novel by Paulette Jiles. Set in the year 1870, it is the story of a 400-mile journey through dangerous Texas territory by 71-year-old Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd to deliver a 10-year-old girl to her family.

The girl, Johanna Leonberger, had been a captured by a band of Kiowa in a raid in which her parents and sister were killed. Johanna lived with the Kiowa for four years and fully assimilated into the band. She was returned by the Kiowa under pressure from US Army, but to the great dismay of her Kiowa mother.

They brought her in and sold her for fifteen Hudson's Bay four-stripe blankets and a set of silver dinnerware. German coin silver. They'll beat it up into bracelets. It was Aperian Crow's band brought her in. Her mother cut her arms to pieces and you could hear her crying for a mile. 
Her Indian mother. 
Yes. . . .

The U.S. Army subsequently determined who Johanna was and where her surviving blood relatives lived. Those relatives, an aunt and uncle, paid fifty dollars in gold to have their niece returned to them. Kidd accepts the commission to do the job as it fits into his world. He makes a living traveling to small, isolated Texas towns where he holds one-hour salons during which he reads various news and feature stories from the newspapers to folks who pay a dime to listen. But he also takes the commission because he is the father of two daughters, a good and honorable man, and sympathetic to Johanna who, at just age 10, had already lost two mothers, two families.

This pair of travelers face adventure and danger, growing closer as their experiences build trust and their companionship eases the loneliness that both feel.  News of the World is a very satisfying read set during a turbulent time in a dangerous place. I enjoyed every bit of this book. It is highly recommended reading.

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